Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Annapurna South Face | 50 Years of the First Ascent May 27th 1970

Don Whillans and Mick Burke at a snowed under Base Camp

The route of the 1970 British Annapurna South Face expedition 
On 27th May 1970 just before the monsoon was going to break Don Whillans and Dougal Haston reached the summit of Annapurna I by the difficult south face route. This climb by a  British expedition led by Sir Chris Bonington   was a landmark one  in the sense that it was the start of big wall climbing in the Himalaya especially on 8000 metre peaks by the difficult routes. For the British, it was possibly the most important climb after the successful ascent of Everest in 1953.

Sadly, on the descent  from the mountain an ice avalanche without any warning  below Camp II killed Ian Clough, one of the climbers.

Interestingly, the year 1970  saw a number of  big wall climbs  in the Himalaya and Karakoram- The Rupal Face of Nanga Parbat was attempted by the Germans, The Japanese on the south west face of Everest, the French on the  west ridge and buttress of Makalu and the British on the south face of Annapurna.

This post shows some historic photographs from the 1970 climb very kindly shared with me by Sir Chris Bonington. 

The Annapurna South Face team at Base camp with the huge wall of Annapurna 1 behind

 Mick Burke leading the hardest climbing encountered on the Face up the steep section of the Rock Band immediately above Camp 5.  He is belayed by Tom Frost who took the photograph

Chris Bonington  carrying a heavy load while moving up to Camp 5 immediately below the Rock Band

 Ian Clough carrying a heavy load while ferrying supplies on the very steep section above Camp 4.

And here are some of my photographs from the spectacular base camp of Annapurna I now a very popular trek known as ABC:

The Annapurna South wall and the memorial chorten to Anatoli Bourkreev Kazak climber who died in an avalanche on the wall on December 25th 1997

Looking at Machapuchare  from the lodges of ABC at dusk
Walking up to Annapurna Base camp with Annapurna South in the background

Morning on the Annapurna South Face

And finally the expedition route from Pokhara courtesy US Army Service Map

 For more information on this historic climb do read Annapurna South Face by Chris Bonington

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